Changing American Congregations: Findings from the Third Wave of the National Congregations Study


Journal Article

© 2014 The Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. The third wave of the National Congregations Study (NCS-III) was conducted in 2012. The 2012 General Social Survey asked respondents who attend religious services to name their religious congregation, producing a nationally representative cross-section of congregations from across the religious spectrum. Data about these congregations were collected via a 50-minute interview with one key informant from 1,331 congregations. Information was gathered about multiple aspects of congregations' social composition, structure, activities, and programming. Approximately two-thirds of the NCS-III questionnaire replicates items from 1998 or 2006-2007 NCS waves. Each congregation was geocoded, and selected data from the 2010 U.S. Census or American Community Survey have been appended. We describe NCS-III methodology and use the cumulative NCS dataset (containing 4,071 cases) to describe five trends: more ethnic diversity, greater acceptance of gays and lesbians, increasingly informal worship styles, declining size (but not from the perspective of the average attendee), and declining denominational affiliation.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Chaves, M; Anderson, SL

Published Date

  • January 1, 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 53 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 676 - 686

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1468-5906

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0021-8294

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/jssr.12151

Citation Source

  • Scopus